The eclectic group of law firms selected as Law360’s 2019 California Powerhouses have steered billions in transactions, landed multimillion-dollar settlements and secured precedential rulings, representing tech and entertainment giants in a legal market that experts say is “deliriously” hot and could be on the verge of a shakeup.
As part of its annual Regional Powerhouse series, Law360 is recognizing a group of law firms in the Golden State that stood out over the past year for their exceptional achievements. The regional powerhouses are Hueston Hennigan LLP, Fenwick & West LLP, Munger Tolles & Olson LLP, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein LLP and Gibson Dunn & Crutcher LLP.
These firms range in size and specialties, with the smallest, Hueston Hennigan, clocking in at 48 attorneys in California who focus on high-stakes litigation. The largest is Gibson Dunn, which has 404 attorneys across its practices in the Golden State, while the three others have between 67 and 275 California-based attorneys.
Regardless of size, however, these five firms have each packed a punch over the past year, serving as leaders in a legal market that has continued to heat up on all fronts.
Lieff Cabraser secured major settlements on behalf of class members in multidistrict litigation involving sexual abuse claims, shareholder claims and excessive emissions claims.
Meanwhile, Fenwick & West and Gibson Dunn have locked in multibillion-dollar deals, and the relatively young litigation firm Hueston Hennigan has secured precedent-setting rulings before the U.S. Supreme Court.
And for the second year in a row, Munger Tolles landed on the list after winning multiple multimillion-dollar copyright judgments on behalf of major Hollywood studios.
Preparing for a Legal Industry Shakeup
Regardless of whether the country enters a recession, legal experts say the California legal industry will likely continue to be active in securities, bankruptcy and white collar practices, which some firms like Morrison & Foerster LLP have already started expanding.
Paul Allen, a Palo Alto-based partner at legal recruiting firm Major Lindsey & Africa, said he's also noticed that this period of heightened activity has driven major legal heavyweights who specialize in public mergers and acquisitions and private equity to switch law firms.
“There’s been a little bit of musical chairs lately,” he said, adding that top M&A firms are always seeking top talent.